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1.  Oxysterols direct immune cell migration through EBI2 
Nature  2011;475(7357):524-527.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-induced gene 2 (EBI2, aka GPR183) is a G protein-coupled receptor that is required for humoral immune responses and polymorphisms in the receptor have been associated with inflammatory autoimmune diseases1-3. The natural ligand for EBI2 has been unknown. Here we describe identification of 7α, 25-dihydroxycholesterol (5-cholesten-3β, 7α, 25-triol; 7α, 25-OHC) as a potent and selective agonist of EBI2. Functional activation of EBI2 by 7α, 25-OHC and closely related oxysterols was verified by monitoring second messenger readouts and saturable, high affinity radioligand binding. Furthermore we find that 7α, 25-OHC and closely related oxysterols act as chemoattractants for immune cells expressing EBI2 by directing cell migration in vitro and in vivo. A key enzyme required for the generation of 7α, 25-OHC is cholesterol 25-hydroxylase (Ch25h)4. Similar to EBI2 receptor knockout mice, mice deficient in Ch25h fail to position activated B cells within the spleen to the outer follicle and mount a reduced plasma cell response after an immune challenge. This demonstrates that Ch25h generates EBI2 bioactivity in vivo and suggests that the EBI2 − oxysterol signaling pathway plays an important role in the adaptive immune response.
doi:10.1038/nature10280
PMCID: PMC4297623  PMID: 21796212
2.  High Diversity of ankA Sequences of Anaplasma phagocytophilum among Ixodes ricinus Ticks in Germany 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(11):5033-5040.
In Germany humans with acute granulocytic ehrlichiosis have not yet been described. Here, we characterized three different genes of Anaplasma phagocytophilum strains infecting German Ixodes ricinus ticks in order to test whether they differ from strains in other European countries and the United States. A total of 1,022 I. ricinus ticks were investigated for infection with A. phagocytophilum by nested PCR and sequence analysis. Forty-two (4.1%) ticks were infected. For all positive ticks, parts of the 16S rRNA and groESL genes were sequenced. The complete coding sequence of the ankA gene could be determined in 24 samples. The 16S rRNA and groESL gene sequences were as much as 100% identical to known sequences. Fifteen ankA sequences were ≥99.37% identical to sequences derived from humans with granulocytic ehrlichiosis in Europe and from a horse with granulocytic ehrlichiosis in Germany. Thus, German I. ricinus ticks most likely harbor A. phagocytophilum strains that can cause disease in humans. Nine additional sequences were clearly different from known ankA sequences. Because these newly described sequences have never been obtained from diseased humans or animals, their biological significance is currently unknown. Based on this unexpected sequence heterogeneity, we propose to use the ankA gene for further phylogenetic analyses of A. phagocytophilum and to investigate the biology and pathogenicity of strains that differ in the ankA gene.
doi:10.1128/JCM.41.11.5033-5040.2003
PMCID: PMC262509  PMID: 14605135
3.  Prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi and Granulocytic and Monocytic Ehrlichiae in Ixodes ricinus Ticks from Southern Germany 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1999;37(11):3448-3451.
A total of 287 adult Ixodes ricinus ticks, collected in two regions of southern Germany (Frankonia and Baden-Württemberg) where Borrelia burgdorferi infections are known to be endemic, were examined for the presence of 16S ribosomal DNA specific for the Ehrlichia phagocytophila genogroup, E. chaffeensis, E. canis, and B. burgdorferi by nested PCR. Totals of 2.2% (6 of 275) and 21.8% (65 of 275) of the ticks were positive for the E. phagocytophila genogroup and B. burgdorferi, respectively. Two ticks (0.7%) were coinfected with both bacteria. Of 12 engorged I. ricinus ticks collected from two deer, 8 (67%) were positive for the E. phagocytophila genogroup and one (8%) was positive for B. burgdorferi. There was no evidence of infection with E. canis or E. chaffeensis in the investigated tick population. The nucleotide sequences of the 546-bp Ehrlichia PCR products differed at one or two positions from the original sequence of the human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) agent (S.-M. Chen, J. S. Dumler, J. S. Bakken, and D. H. Walker, J. Clin. Microbiol. 32:589–595, 1994). Three groups of sequence variants were detected; two of these were known to occur in other areas in Europe or the United States, whereas one has not been reported before. Thus, in the German I. ricinus tick population closely related granulocytic ehrlichiae are prevalent, which might represent variants of E. phagocytophila or the HGE agent.
PMCID: PMC85664  PMID: 10523532

Results 1-3 (3)